Patrick’s Confession (18)
Therefore indeed it is true that there is an obligation to fish well and diligently, as the Lord commanded, saying: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” And again, He tells us through the prophets: “Look, I send out many fishers and hunters” – says God, and so on. From which it follows most cogently that we are obliged to spread our nets so that we can catch a great shoal and multitude for God. And there should be clergy everywhere to baptise and preach to a population which is in need and longs for what it lacks, as the Lord says in the Gospel, where He admonishes and teaches, telling us: “Now therefore, go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and then – see – I will be with you all the days until the very end of the world.”
Translation Liam De Paor, St. Patrick’s World
Patrick read his Bible, believed what it taught, and obeyed God’s Word in all things. Especially was this true concerning his mission to the Irish. God had reached out to him and showed him abundant mercy and grace. How could he not be available to God to do the same for others?
Both the Old and New Testaments look forward to a day of great “fishing” and “harvesting.” Patrick did not fail to take these words personally and to heart, or to carry out the commands and seek the promises they contained.
Patrick regarded the work of evangelizing the lost as a solemn obligation “to fish well and diligently”. The goal of his evangelizing was to win souls, “a great shoal and multitude for God.” To this end he needed to “spread [his] net” by wandering across the Irish countryside bearing witness, baptizing, discipling, and training believers as much as he could. This included training clergy, which Patrick appears to have undertaken merely as a part of his ongoing ministry. Patrick was no theologian, but he knew the Word and did the work. However he trained those aspiring pastors, it took. The next generation of Irish church leaders took up Patrick’s burden, vision, and work and extended it far beyond Ireland to Scotland and Europe.